How do we move things on when it all seems to have ground to a halt?
Good thing as patience undoubtedly is (and where would the British love of queuing be without it?), it’s fair to say that it isn’t always easy having to wait for things we want. It’s harder still when you’re convinced you know what you need, how you can get it and where it will take you for the greatest benefit.
Waiting does have its good points. There’s more time to think, an opportunity to work out how to sell your idea or vision to others (if that’s necessary), as well as a sort of reality check to ensure that you’re on the right track from the beginning. But when all’s said and done waiting can be an especially frustrating process when the promised outcomes seem tantalisingly just around the corner, ready to arrive tomorrow – a day that never comes.
Biblically, waiting is not just something we have to do until we get what we want. Waiting is part of the process of becoming what God wants us to be. (John Ortberg)
To wait on God means to pause and soberly consider our own inadequacy and the Lord’s all-sufficiency, and to seek counsel and help from the Lord, and to hope in Him (Psalm. 33: 20-22; Isaiah 8:1). The folly of not waiting for God is that we forfeit the blessing of having God work for us. The evil of not waiting on God is that we oppose God’s will to exalt Himself in mercy. (John Piper)
Pause for thought
- What is your own experience of having to wait for something you’re really looking forward to?
- Please read Isaiah 40: 29 – 31 and 2 Corinthians 4:16 – 18. How do these verses, alongside the two quotations (from John Ortberg and John Piper), give a rounded biblical perspective on what it means to be patient?
- How can we help someone who is finding waiting difficult?
- What does waiting say about us? What might it teach us about God?
It’s Spring in the year 445 BC. Four months have passed since reports reached Nehemiah of the devastation in Jerusalem. Broken and ashamed he’s poured his heart out to God, promising to repair the damage but, he’s heard nothing.
The opportunity for Nehemiah to share his concerns has finally arrived. Along with the wine, Nehemiah pours out his heart to the King.
It’s the most unexpected opportunity and the unlikeliest of conversations. A King concerned for a slave’s condition, to the extent that he is prepared to risk political instability to rebuild a city in an overrun country.
To think about:
Getting a head start (Nehemiah 2: 1 – 5)
- Please read Nehemiah 2 verses 1 to 10. How does the King find out what is going on?
- In what ways does this approach help us to support others today?
- Why do you think Nehemiah phrases his response to the King (vv. 3 – 5) in the way he does?
- Handed the opening he needs, Nehemiah offers up a quick “arrow prayer” before replying to the King’s enquiries. Why is it important to “pray continually?” (see 1 Thessalonians 5: 17)
- What barriers might there be to us doing that?
When opportunity knocks, we need to grasp it with both hands if we are going to get things off the ground. Vision will never be realised without action: it is simply good intentions until the resources are in place and the first steps taken.
In the last part of our reading, we‘ll see how Nehemiah approaches the tricky problem of getting the raw materials for his project. At the same time, we’re also reminded that being a visionary is not easy. Not everyone will see things as you do and you’ll have to deal with criticism and opposition at some point on the way
To think about:
Building a Platform (Nehemiah 2: 6 – 10)
- Please reread verses 6 to 10. Why is it important to have the correct resources in place at the earliest opportunity?
- In what ways do the promised resources – letters of safe conduct, building materials and a security team – contribute towards the core vision?
- How can we be more confident in asking God for the things we need to realise His plan?
- Under what circumstances is opposition to a vision or a plan at its strongest?
- How can we deal with divisions in church in the most effective way to leave a vision intact being pastorally sensitive to all?